Goal disruption theory: Introduction
and empirical support
Jason T. Siegel
Claremont Graduate University
APS
May 23, 2014
Collaborators
Benjamin Rosenberg
Mario Navarro
Elena Lyrintzis
Lindsay Handren
Acknowledgment
Dr. Bill Crano
See GDTheory.com for the
full presentation.
Edward C. Tolman
Tolman = the spark.
Behavior is purposive
“…[it] always seems to have the character of getting-to or getting-from a specific
goal-object, or goal-situation” (Tolman, 1932, p. 10)
The causes of behavior are environmental stimuli and initiating
physiological states.
Changes in thought and action are system-wide.
Disruption
Edward C. Tolman
Organisms develop
“cognitive expectations”
for stimuli or behavior to
lead to more or less reward
A mouse, an ape, some
lettuce.
When these expectations
are violated, disruption
occurs.
 Tolman presented disruption as an upset in behavior caused by
environmental change, leading the organism to focus on the cause
of the disruption.
Disruption
Could this explain some behavior
typically perceived as irrational and
foolish?
What are the totality of changes that
occur?
What dictates whether a violation will
lead to disruption?
What is GDT?
Goal disruption theory (GDT, see Siegel, 2013;
Siegel et al., 2012) seeks to explain the factors
(e.g., strength of the expectation that was
violated) that influence whether negatively
valenced goal expectancy violations (e.g., learning
resources for goal satiation are less than expected)
will cause disruption, and the breadth of changes
that occur as a result (e.g., increased need for
structure, willingness to endure harm).
Goal Disruption Theory
Behavior is goal directed and purposive.
Disequilibrium is a motivational state that triggers the
psychological system to adjust to maximize a return to
equilibrium.
Goal expectancy violations represent a cause of a state of
disruption (persistent state of psychological disequilibrium).
Definitions
Goals
•“…the desired end state the individual
reaches for; it is the ultimate aim of
one’s adopted action, the very cause of
the action; it is the purpose toward
Moskowitz and
which one is striving; it is the reason
Grant (2009) define
for doing and thinking” (p. 1).
goals as follows:
Expectations
Tolman (1932)
defines expectations
as follows:
•“an immanent cognitive determinant
aroused by actually presented stimuli”
(Tolman, 1932, p. 444).
 Tolman (1925, 1932) theorized extensively on the
importance of expectations (i.e., beliefs an
individual holds about his or her world and how
the components of the world interact) and the
role they play in goal pursuit and the
maintenance of psychological equilibrium.
Goal Expectations
Beliefs about rewards associated with specific goals.
Paths through which the goal can be achieved.
Peoples’ capabilities for achieving the goal.
Skills that will be needed for achieving the goal.
Level of performance they can expect to achieve from the self as well as from
other people and environmental objects.
Resources and support that exist for achieving the goal.
Situations that will be encountered as the result of goal-related behavior.
People hold expectations about the goals they have already accomplished and
the distance remaining between themselves and the goal.
Goal Expectation Violations
If people hold expectations about their goals,
occurrences will transpire that violate those
expectations (i.e., goal expectation violations).
Goal expectation violations can make the world
seem less predictable and less controllable than
previously believed
Appraisals of threat and feelings of vulnerability
are amplified (e.g., Rosenberg et al., in press;
Siegel et al., 2012; Tolman, 1932; also see
Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1981).
Goal Disruption
A persistent state of
psychological disequilibrium
that occurs as a result of a goal
expectation violation.
Theoretical Model
Structural
Harmony
Violation
Ability Imprint
Opinion
of Efficacy
Processing
Personality
Traits
&
Perception
Disposition
Disruption
Violation
Severity
Disruption
Goal State
Allocation
Tactic
of Mental
Resources
 Seeks to explain the factors that influence whether
a goal expectancy violations will
cause disruption.
 Seeks to understand the breadth of changes that occur as a result
Mental Constriction
Unexpected Goal Violation
Violation
Severity
Ability
Violation
Imprint
Disposition
Opinion of
Efficacy
DISRUPTION
(persistent
psychological
disequilibrium)
Allocation
of
Resources
Structural
Harmony
Processing
and
Perception
Personality
Traits
Tactic
Predicting Goal Disruption
Violation Severity
Strength
The strength of the violated expectations/beliefs, and goal
status.
Goal Status
Closeness to goal, effort into goal, and goal magnitude.
Unexpected Nature
The level of unexpectedness of the goal expectation
violation.
Predicting Goal Disruption
Violation Imprint
The number of impaired expectancies and the perceived
importance of the goal to the person’s well being.
Opinion of
Efficacy
An individual's perceived capabilities of finding an
alternative path to restore their feelings of safety.
Structural
Harmony (State of
the System)
Current psychological state, organization, flexibility.
Personality Traits
Traits that buffer the intensity of a violation
(i.e., tolerance of uncertainty, trait anxiety).
If a goal disruption occurs…
Mental constriction
A return to equilibrium becomes
paramount focus
System-wide adaptive processes engage
(for similar conceptualization see Arndt & Solomon, 2003; Barker,
Dembo, & Lewin, 1941; Berkowitz, 1988, 1989; Lewin, 1946)
Psychological disequilibrium will persist
until psychological balance is restored
(Kessen, 1971; Tolman, 1926).
ADAPT
Ability
Reduced goal fluidity
Less creativity
Reduced ability to focus on other goals
Disposition
Increased need for closure
Changes in temperament
Less inclined to take another person’s perspective
Allocation of
Resources
Goal Shielding
Little to no concern for problems caused by shifting
resources away from other goals
Processing &
Perception
Attention bias toward relevant stimuli
Hyper-focus on goal
Tunnel vision
Tactics
Behavior will become more primitive
Most direct path toward goal
Long term consequences not considered
Why care?
Explain behavior previously regarded as
irrational.
Offers an explanation for extreme behavior.
Makes it very scary to think about medical
decisions made after receiving bad news.
Offers insight into why interventions
sometimes fail (decision are made while in a
state of disruption).
Empirical Evidence
O-HITS:
• Start with evidence that unexpected negative
goal violations cause more psychological
disequilibrium than expected negative goal
violations.
ADAPT:
• Begin with purposive harm endurance.
• Highlight how a negative goal violation
changes numerous constructs not often
considered as a system-wide response.
So what?
Study Set 1
Structural
Harmony To experimentally test the
factors
of the individual
Opinion
Violation
that cause a goal
Goal
of Efficacy
Imprint
expectation
violation to
become a goal disruption.
Violation
Severity
Disruption
Personality
Traits
Will a goal violation become a goal disruption?
Studies 1a-1c
Dependent Variable
Psychological
Disequilibrium
• Siegel & Lyrintzis (under review)
• Level of disruption experienced
• 5 items: “I am mentally uneasy,” “I
have lost my psychological center”
Study 1a
Participants
Informed Consent
MTurk Study
N = 333
Pretest measure of intolerance of uncertainty
Compensated $0.51
Randomly assigned to intense or minor goal violation
Posttest measure of PDQ
Thanked and debriefed
Study 1a
Intense vs. Minor goal violation
Pilot tested [N = 75; t(74) = 4.75,
p < .001, d = 1.10]
Outcome of job interview
Manipulated factors
Bad vs. good week (structural harmony)
Prepared vs. did not prepare (strength)
Need job vs. don’t need job (imprint)
Confident vs. not confident (severity)
Study 1a
Measure
Intolerance of
Uncertainty
•Buhr & Dugas (2003)
•Assess if participants are comfortable with
unstructured surroundings
•27 items: “Unforeseen events upset me
greatly,” “One should always look ahead so as
to avoid surprises”
Study 1a
Significant interaction between violation and IUS: B = -.34, t(329) = -2.54, p = .01 ✔
7
Mean PDQ
6
5
Intense
Minor
4
3
2
1
1 SD -
Mean
Intolerance of Uncertainty
1 SD +
Study 1b
Participants
Informed Consent
Mturk sample
N = 308
Compensated $0.51
Pretest measure of general self-efficacy
Randomly assigned to intense or minor goal violation
Posttest measure of PDQ
Thanked and debriefed
Study 1b
Measure
General
self-efficacy
•Schwarzer & Jersulam (1981)
•Individual’s beliefs in ability to control
challenging demands
•10 items: “I can always manage to solve difficult
problems if I try hard enough,” “I can usually
handle whatever comes my way”
Study 1b
Significant interaction between violation and GSE: B = .46, t(302) = 2.52, p = .01 ✔
7
Mean PDQ
6
5
Intense
4
Minor
3
2
1
1 SD (-)
Mean
General Self-Efficacy
1 SD (+)
Study 1c
Participants
MTurk Study
Informed Consent
Pretest measures: optimism and need for structure
N = 90
Compensated
$1.00
Randomly assigned to unexpected or expected academic failure
Posttest measure of PDQ
Thanked and debriefed
Study 1c
Unexpected vs. Expected academic failure
Waiting to take an important test
All students imagine failing
Expect to pass vs. Expect to fail
Study 1c
Measures
Optimism
•Scheier et al. (1994): Revised Life Orientation Test
•Distinguish optimism from neuroticism
•6 items: “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best” and
“I hardly ever expect things to go my way (R).”
Need for Structure
•Thompson, Naccarato, & Parker (1989, 1992)
•Dispositional changes
•12 items: “It upsets me to go into a situation without
knowing what I can expect from it” “I don’t like situations
that are uncertain.”
Study 1c
Significant interaction between violation and Optimism: B = .48, t(89) = 2.05, p = .04 ✔
7
Mean PDQ
6
5
4
Unexpected
Expected
3
2
1
SD (-)
Mean
Optimism
SD (+)
Study 1c
Significant interaction between violation and NFS: B = -.97, t(89) = -2.13, p = .04
✔
7
Mean PDQ
6
5
4
Unexpected
Expected
3
2
1
SD (-)
Mean
Need for Structure
SD (+)
Study Set 1, Summary
Intolerance of uncertainty, self-efficacy, optimism, and
need for structure are all moderators of goal disruption
Personality traits moderate whether a goal expectation
violation leads to goal disruption
Personality traits
Even when confronted with an intense goal violation, having
certain personality traits can buffer the likelihood of
experiencing a goal disruption. Goal
Expectation
violation
Disruption
Study Set 2
Ability
Opinion
Processing
of Efficacy
&
Perception
Goal
Violation
Severity
Structural
Harmony
Violation
To experimentally
test the GDT
Imprint
Disposition
derived prediction that goal
expectation violations lead to
Disruption
intense system-wide changes in
thought and action.
Disruption
Tactic
Allocation
of Mental
Resources
Personality
Traits
Study Set #2
2a: Pay cut Unexpected vs. Expected Violation on
PDQ
Threat Appraisal
Vulnerability
2b: Unexpected vs. Expected Violation on
Ability: Self-reported Creativity
Disposition: Personal Need for Structure
Tactics: Purposive Harm Endurance
2c: Unexpected vs. Expected Violation on
Allocation of resources: Goal Reengagement/Goal
Disengagement
Perception and processing: Goal Rumination
Study 2a
Methods:
Informed Consent
MTurk Study
211 Participants
Randomly assigned to unexpected or expected goal violation
Posttest measures of PDQ, Appraisal,
Vulnerability
Thanked and debriefed
Study 2a
Unexpected vs. Expected pay cut
Imagine you are in Jessie’s position
You receive a one percent pay cut
Unexpected (completely surprised) vs. Expected (not
surprised)
Study 2a
Measure
Psychological
disequilibrium
Threat appraisal
Vulnerability
•Siegel & Lyrintzis (under review).
•Assesses level of instability and psychological disequilibrium.
•5 items: “I am mentally uneasy”, “I have lost my psychological
center.”
•Ferguson, Matthews & Cox (1999).
•Assesses level of threat that an individual prescribes a situation.
•6 items: “This event was…” Followed by items including “hostile”
and “frightening.”
•Assesses level of an individual’s feeling of vulnerability.
•3 items: “vulnerable,” “open to harm,” and “unprotected.”
Study 2a
7
Mean Response
6
5
4
F(3,208) = 7.64, p < .001, Cohen’s d = .38
Unexpected
Expected
3
2
1
0
PDQ
Threat Appraisal
Vulnerability
Study 2b
Methods:
Informed Consent
MTurk Study
158 Participants
Randomly assigned to an expected or unexpected goal
violation
Posttest measure of personal need for
structure, creativity, purposive harm
endurance
Thanked and debriefed
Study 2b
Unexpected vs. Expected academic failure
Waiting to take an important test
All students imagine failing
Expect to pass vs. Expect to fail
Study 2b
Measures
Personal need for
structure
• Thompson, Naccarato, and Parker (1989, 1992).
• Assesses peoples’ propensity to want organization and
order within their lives.
• 12 items: “It upsets me to go into a situation without
knowing what I can expect from it.”
Creativity
• Forgeard (2013).
• Assesses self-reported creativity.
• 3 items: “Right now I feel…” and was followed by the
words “creative,” “less creative than normal,” and “more
creative than normal.”
Study 2b
Measure
Physical purposive
harm endurance
•Assesses willingness to endure physical harm to pursue a goal.
•4 items: “I would be willing to physically harm myself if it
would lead to academic success” and “I would be willing to
endure harm if I thought it would lead to academic success.”
Interpersonal and
emotional
purposive harm
endurance
•Assesses willingness to endure interpersonal and emotional
harm to pursue a goal.
•4 items: “I would be willing to get emotionally hurt if I thought
it would lead to academic success,” and “I would be willing to
lose friends if it led to academic success.”
Study 2b
7
Mean Response
6
5
F(4, 152) = 4.41, p = .002; Cohen’s d = .33
4
3
Unexpected
2
Expected
1
0
Study 2c
Participants
Informed Consent
MTurk Study
158 Participants
Randomly assigned to an expected or unexpected goal violation
Posttest measure of goal adjustment scale (goal
disengagement and goal reengagement) and goal
rumination
Thanked and debriefed
Study 2c
Unexpected or Expected Elimination of Bonus
Waiting to hear about a monthly bonus
Email saying you did not receive the bonus
Unexpected (surprised) vs. Expected (not surprised)
Study 2c
Measure
Goal
reenegagement
• Wrosch, Scheier, Miller, Schulz, & Carver (2003).
• Assesses participants’ level of commitment to other
goals.
• 6 items: “I start working on other new goals,” and “I
put effort toward other meaningful goals.”
Goal
disengagement
• Wrosch, Scheier, Miller, Schulz, & Carver (2003).
• Used to measure the loss of the ability to reduce effort
toward a different goal or to work on other goals.
• 4 items: “I stay committed to the goal for a long time; I
can’t let go,” and “It’s easy for me to stop thinking
about the goal and let it go.”
Study 2c
Measure
Goal rumination
•Brunstein, Schultheiss, and Grässmann (1998).
•This scale measures participants’ tendency to think
continuously about their goals.
•7 items: “I go round and round in my mind about this goal,”
and “I find it hard to shut off thoughts about this goal.”
Study 2c
7
Mean Response
6
5
F(3,62) = 3.56, p = .002; Cohen’s d = .47
4
Unexpected
Expected
3
2
1
0
Goal rumination
Goal
disengagement
Goal
reengagement
Study Set 2, Summary
Unexpected vs.
Expected Violation
PDQ, Threat,
Vulnerability
Changes in
Unexpected vs.
Expected Violation
•Ability
•Disposition
•Allocation of Resources
•Processing and Perception
•Tactic
Study Set 3
Ability
Processing
&
Perception
Disposition
To test the applied
utility
of GDT within the
Disruption
contexts of politics, drug
use, and alcohol myopia.
Goal
Tactic
Allocation
of Mental
Resources
Study Set #3: Application of GDT
•Are people who are most surprised about a negative election result
3a-b: Harm most likely to endure harm to change the outcome?
for Romney
3c-3d:
Disrupted
Drug Use
3e-3f:
Disruption
Myopia
•Can GDT offer insight into why non-users of prescription
stimulants decide to initiate use?
•Can GDT offer insight into how drug ads influence peoples’
processing and perception?
•Does processing in a state of disruption mimic that of someone
who is drunk?
Purposive Harm Endurance
Refers to the extent to which people will be willing to
endure various forms of pain and impairment to reach
a desired goal.
Derived from animal studies conducted by Tolman
(1932) and his contemporaries (Warden & Nissen,
1928; Wiesner & Sheard, 1933).
Monkey and rat studies.
Tolman emphasized that a violation of expectations led
to an upset and change in behavior.
Purposive Harm Endurance
Siegel (2011) and Siegel and colleagues (2012).
Need for goal increases -> willingness to endure harm
for goal increases.
Rosenberg and colleagues (2013)
Need for a desired end state was associated with greater
willingness to endure harm if it led to goal satiation.
Studies 3a-3b
Dependent Variable
Willingness to
endure
purposive
harm
• Willingness to endure purposive harm
• 4 items: “I would be willing to physically harm myself
if I thought it would lead to academic success,” “I
would be willing to be hospitalized if I thought it
would lead to having [Barack Obama/Mitt Romney]
as president”
Study 3a
Participants
MTurk Study
137 Voters
Informed
Consent
Measure of candidate support
Measure of surprise of outcome
Measure of purposive harm endurance
Thanked and
debriefed
Study 3a
Measure
Support for
candidate
• 1 item: “Who was your choice for presidency
in the 2012 election?”
• Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Another
candidate
Level of
unexpectedness
• 1 item: “How surprised are you that Obama
won reelection?”
Study 3a
Purposive Harm Endurance
7
6
5
R2 change = .03, F(1, 133) = 4.22, p = .04, B = .29,
SE = .14, t(133) = 2.05, p = .04
4
Barack Obama
Mitt Romney
3
2
1
0
Low (-1SD)
Average
Unexpectedness
High (+1SD)
Study 3b
Participants
Informed Consent
New England college
students
32 participants
Randomly assigned to expected or unexpected goal violation
Posttest measure of purposive harm
endurance
Thanked and debriefed
Study 3b
Unexpected vs. Expected academic failure
Waiting to take an important test
All students imagine failing
Expect to pass vs. Expect to fail
Study 3b
Purposive Harm Endurance
7
6
F(1, 30) = 8.10, p = .01; Cohen’s d = 1.01
5
4
3
2
1
0
Unexpected
Expected
Study 3b
As predicted, an unexpected violation led to increased levels
of willingness to endure purposive harm.
For Romney voters, the more unexpected the loss of the
election was, the more they would be willing to endure
purposive harm to have their candidate win a recount.
Purposive harm endurance can be a measure for extreme
behavior that can be used in applied settings.
The unexpected has a role in adaptive behavior for real life
circumstances.
Study 3c
Can GDT explain why nonusers initiate
nonmedical prescription stimulants use (NMPS)?
Study 3c
Experimental Manipulation
Midterm in a very important class
Expect to get an 80%
Fail (60%) vs. Pass (100%)
Study 3c
Informed Consent
Participants
Mturk
N = 319 students
Randomly assigned to pass or fail important test
Posttest measures: PDQ & Purposive
harm
Thanked and debriefed
Study 3c
Measures
Psychological
Disequilibrium
•Siegel & Lyrintzis (under review)
•Level of disruption experienced
•5 items: “I am mentally uneasy,” “I have lost my psychological center”
Willingness to
endure purposive
harm
•Willingness to endure purposive harm
•7 items: “I would be willing to get physically hurt” and “I would be willing to
hurt friendships”
•Instructions said “Respond to questions about how much harm you would be
willing to endure if you knew it would help you get the grade to pass the class.”
NMPS Intentions
•1 item: “Please imagine that there was a drug available to you that could help
you focus and work for long periods of time. The drug has side effects, such as
increased heart rate, anxiety, and nausea, but it will definitely help you focus.”
•“How likely are you to take this drug?” from 1 (Not at all likely) to 7 (Very
likely).
Study 3c
Psychological
Disequilibrium
β = -0.23***
Condition (Pass/Fail)
β = 0.25***
β = 0.27***
Purposive
Harm
Endurance
Intentions
β = 0.36***
Study 3c
Negative occurrences can lead people to change
perceptions of utility of drugs and usage intentions
Doing whatever it takes to pass the class- Supports idea
that people in a heightened drive state may act
differently than they would otherwise.
Study 3d
If events in students’ lives trigger these processes, can
prescription drug ads do the same thing?
Studies suggest the presence of inconsistency-arousing
negative emotional appeals in direct-to-consumer
(DTC) drug ads
Can these appeals produce negative goal expectation
violations? How are people’s perceptions of the ad and
drug affected? What about their usage intentions?
Study 3d
Participants
Informed Consent
mTurk
415 participants
Randomly assigned expectation violation or control drug ad
Posttest measures: PDQ, Purposive harm,
outcome expectancies, drug and ad eval, & usage
intentions
Thanked and debriefed
Study 3d
Measures
Psychological
Disequilibrium
(mediator)
•Siegel & Lyrintzis (under review)
•Level of disruption experienced
•5 items: “I am mentally uneasy,” “I have lost my psychological center”
Willingness to
endure purposive
harm
•Willingness to endure purposive harm
•4 items: “I would be willing to get physically hurt” and “I would be
willing to hurt friendships”
•Instructions said “Respond to questions about how much harm you
would be willing to endure if it would help you obtain the advertised
drug.”
Study 3d
Measures
Ad evaluation
Drug evaluation
•Five 7-point semantic differential items
•Bad/Good, Boring/Interesting, Useless/Useful,
Unhelpful/Helpful, and Unbelievable/Believable
•Four 7-point semantic differential items
•Bad/Good, Relevant to me/Not relevant to me,
Useless/Useful, and Ineffective/Effective
Study 3d
Measures
Outcome
expectations
•Five items (1 = Strongly Disagree to 7 = Strongly Agree).
•All items preceded by the stem “If I take this drug…”
•Followed by items such as, “…my life will improve;” “…I will
feel better;” and “…I will enjoy life more.”
Intentions to use
drug
•Three items (1 = Strongly Disagree to 7 = Strongly Agree)
•“I intend on using this drug;” “I would pay to use this drug;”
and “If this drug were free, I would use it.”
Study 3d
Experimental manipulation
Randomly assigned participants to view one of two
prescription drug advertisements
1. Negative goal violation: Used text like “Do you sometimes
feel lonely? Not as happy as you could be? A little lost? Do
you sometimes feel vulnerable?” to remind viewers of a
goal expectation violation. A drug (RISPEROFF) was then
offered as a solution to their problems.
2. Control: Included the same presentation of the drug
without the negative goal violation text.
Study 3d
Study 3d
Study 3d
Study 3d
Study 3d
Study 3d
Study 3d
Psychological disequilibrium mediated the relationship
between viewing a DTC drug ad and…
Increased purposive harm endurance
Positive evaluations of the ad
Positive evaluations of the drug
Positive outcome expectations of the drug
Increased usage intentions
Not all ads will cause all people to enter a state of goal
disruption, but those ads that do will drastically
influence subsequent thought and behavior
Study 3d
Results indicate what could happen if negative
emotional appeals in prescription drug ads cause
psychological disequilibrium
If ads do cause psychological disequilibrium, people
may more inclined to use the advertised drug and be
more willing to endure harm to do so
Could influence how side effects information affects
people’s decisions
Studies 3e & 3f: Can outcomes associated with
alcohol myopia be applied to the GDT realm?
During alcohol myopia people experience an “…impoverished version of
reality in which the breadth, depth, and time line of our understanding is
constrained” (Steele & Josephs, 1990, p. 923).
✔
Psychological
shortsightedness
Hyper-focus on short term,
immediate aspects
✔
Cognitive
effects
✔
Inability to process distal
information
Lack of regard for future
consequences of action
✔
Study 3e:
Myopia and Goal Commitment

A conceptual replication of the effects of alcohol myopia on goal commitment (Sevincer
& Oettingen, 2009)

Drunk people were highly committed to their goal, even with low expectation of
success
GOAL
H1
There will be an
interaction such
that, when
disrupted, goal
commitment will
be high regardless
of expectations;
when not,
commitment will
be aligned
Other
stuff
Study 3e: Method
Procedure
Informed Consent
Participants
 Mturk sample
 Compensated 40¢
 N = 303
 55.4% male
 Mean age of 32
 79.2% Caucasian
Pretest measures of expectation & importance
Randomly assigned to goal disruption or control
condition
Posttest measure of commitment & demographics
Thank & Debrief
Disruption Manipulation
Study 3e: Measures
Expectation of
success
•“How likely do you think it is that you will attain
your goal?”
Incentive Value
•“How important is it to you that you will attain your
goal?”
Goal
Commitment
α = .74
•“How disappointed would you feel if you did not attain your
goal?”
•“How hard would it be for you if you did not attain your goal?”
•“How determined are you to attain your goal?”
Study 3e: Results
• Hypothesis supported
7
Goal Commitment
6
5
4
Control
Disruption
3
2
1
Low (10th)
Average (50th)
High (90th)
Expectation of Attainment
Relationship between expectation and commitment as a function of condition (age
and gender as covariates); p = .031
Study 3f:
Myopia and Attribution

A conceptual replication of the effects of alcohol myopia on ratings of attribution
(Herzog, 1999)
 Drunk people made attributions based on what they were primed to think about –
situation or disposition
Social
H2
Inference
Process
There will be an
interaction such
that when
disrupted and given
2. Effortful
1. Initial,a situational
inferential prime,processing of all
Automatic
demands on
Categorization
Ps will infer greater behavior
dispositional
attributions than
those in the
control.
Study 3f: Method
Procedure
Informed Consent
Participants
 Mturk sample
 Compensated 40¢
 N = 489
 64.2% male
 Mean age of 30
 76.5% Caucasian
2x3 Randomized Design
Randomly assigned to disruption or control
2nd Randomization to dispositional, situation, or no
prime for photos
Posttest measures of attribution, PDQ, &
demographics
Thank & Debrief
Photos
Aggression
Anxiety
Study 3f: Measures
Attribution
PDQ
α = .96
• “For the picture above, do you think it is the person
that is aggressive (anxious) or the situation that is
causing the aggression (anxiety)? ”
• 1 (person) – 7 (situation) semantic differential
• “I am mentally uneasy”
• “I feel psychology disoriented”
• “I feel psychologically off-balance”
• “I feel mentally disrupted”
• “I have lost my psychological center”
Study 3f: Results
Aggression Attribution Rating
• Anxiety photo: no significant interaction
• Aggression photo: Significant interaction!
7
6
5
4
Control
Disruption
3
2
1
Person
No Prime
Inferential Prime
Situation
Relationship between inferential prime and attribution as a function of
disruption condition; p = .017
Studies 3e & 3f Summary
Hyper-focus and over commitment to goal
• May be helpful in motivating goal pursuit
• May lead to making unreasonable decisions
that cannot be reversed
Increased dispositional attributions – even
when primed to focus on the situation
• Distorted dispositional attributions may
lead to increased conflict, aggression,
and violence
• Otherwise avoidable conflict with loved
ones in time of strife
Discussion
• GDT: A work in progress
• Brings together nearly a century of psychological scholarship.
• The focus on goal expectancy violations, the unique role of
unexpected, and the breadth of outcomes examined are the
relatively unique aspects of the model.
• GDT might be able to explain behavior typically seen as
irrational or foolish.
• Many more components of the model to be tested.
Questions?
Gdtheory.com